Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Xavier? A mystery team? 'I think that's a fair label,' Coach Duane Schulte says

Saints have been busy helping others in the wake of last week's storm

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Jack Lux (36) finds room to run for a touchdown against Marion last season. Lux is the top returni
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Jack Lux (36) finds room to run for a touchdown against Marion last season. Lux is the top returning rusher for the Saints, who went 8-2 last season. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — “Old-school strength,” Duane Schulte calls it.

“It’s like when guys used to bale hay in the summer,” said Schulte, the football coach at Cedar Rapids Xavier.

It’s not hay that the Saints have been hauling. It’s logs. It’s brush. It’s siding and shingles.

It’s anything and everything that was scattered throughout the town in last Monday’s storm.

The Saints’ routine throughout the past week has been service, practice and more service.

“It’s nice to do both,” running back Jack Lux said. “A lot of the good has been helping people, and a lot of it has been getting the guys together. Then, it’s nice to take a break and go practice.”

With the OK from the school administration, the Saints returned to practice last Wednesday.

“We moved it to later in the day,” Schulte said. “I told the guys to get out and help people for the first 10 hours of the day.”

Like everybody else, the Saints haven’t been together much this summer, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before that, they entered the 2020 season as somewhat of a mystery team.

“I think that’s a fair label,” Schulte said.

Xavier was 8-2 last season and was beaten by North Scott in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs, which is earlier than accustomed.

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“We lost a lot of guys from last season, so there will be a lot of new faces,” Lux said. “But that’s how it is, the same thing over, year after year.

“New guys will fall into place and do their jobs, and the coaches will have a good plan.”

Schulte has done that for more than a quarter-century. His next win will be the 200th of his career.

He is 199-81 in 26 years overall, 174-67 in 22 seasons at Xavier.

Lux is the top returning skill player, accounting for 557 rushing yards, plus 15 receptions for 175 yards. He scored seven offensive touchdowns.

Nick Lemke added 184 rushing yards and five TDs.

Jaxon Rexroth will take over at quarterback and “is going to surprise some people,” Schulte said.

“He’s a combination of the quarterbacks we’ve had lately. He’s very smart, strong and fast, like Reggie, Bryce and Quinn (Schulte), and he has the grit of a Tyler Dupont.”

Rexroth also accounted for 26.5 tackles last season.

The Gazette’s offseason poll had the Saints at No. 4 in Class 3A. They open the season Aug. 28 at home against defending 3A state champion Western Dubuque.

“I hope we’re kind of an under-the-radar team that surprises some people,” Schulte said. “I think we’ll be a typical Xavier team — one that works hard, is resilient and does what we ask for them to do.”

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Lux said, “We’ll take advantage of opportunities when they come. More than anything, we’re lucky to be playing this fall, and we’re excited to be on the field.”

Cedar Rapids Xavier, at a glance

Coach: Duane Schulte (23rd year at Xavier, 174-67; 27th year overall, 199-81)

Last year: 8-2, Class 3A playoffs qualifier

Top returners: QB/CB Jaxon Rexroth, RB/LB Nick Lemke, RB/LB Jack Lux, OT/DT Michael Steffen, WR/DT Nick Kramer, OT/DT Ryan Volk

2020 regular-season schedule:

Aug. 28 — Western Dubuque

Sept. 4 — at Linn-Mar

Sept. 11 — Clear Creek Amana

Sept. 18 — Newton

Sept. 25 — at Oskaloosa

Oct. 2 — at Grinnell

Oct. 9 — Benton Community

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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